How to Plan Successful B2B Seminars
Raising Your Professional Profile as an Expert through Seminar Marketing
Promoting a small business through seminar marketing is possibly one of the most effective ways to engage your group of customers and sets you apart from your competition.
Imagine for a moment. A whole group of customers in one room, all rubbing shoulders with one another. And all of them eagerly waiting to hear what you have to say. And you're that much closer to getting new customers onboard because you made the effort to share your information.
Seminar marketing can mean money in the bank
From a customer’s point of view, it takes time to get to know a supplier and they certainly won't invite us into their world at the drop of a hat. However, being invited to a business seminar, if it's relevant to them can be a great way begin or cement a relationship,
In the same way that the newsletter articles will appeal to different people, business seminars are exactly the same. Businesses have differing interests, so it is important to identify what subject matter would be most appealing. It’s no good simply trying to pitch to everyone.
Your job is to find out what subjects would pull these people out of their comfortable warm offices and spend a few hours with you. So get someone to do the research.
Choosing the Event Type
Because people respond differently, you need to decide what type of event you wish to hold. Think about your customer base and the types of products or services you provide. Although this article is about seminars, it may be that other events are better suited:
- If you're part of a Law Firm, Financial Advisors or Accountants, would a seminar suit your clients?
- If you're involved in technology, such as Telecoms, IT, Software or Office Furniture, would an exhibition scenario be more suited?
- Perhaps, you have a significant customer database and an informal Networking event would be more appropriate with drinks and canapes?
Planning the Seminar
Think about planning a seminar at least six months in advance. You want your event to be a success and you want a good turn out, so you need to make a few decisions early on:
- Depending on whether you are going to hold a Seminar, Exhibition or Networking Event, decide on the best location
- What are your objectives of the event; is it to sell, raise awareness or deliver information and wait for a response
- Seminar Content; Who is going to talk about what
- Seminar Marketing; are you going to invite prospects as well as customers and if so, will you allow them to bring a friend?
- Seminar Timetable: Decide provisional dates – check for industry exams & other clashes etc. Avoid holidays, Mondays and Fridays, Half Term etc
- How many people do you want to attend
- Do your contacts need an incentive to attend?
Setting Clear Objectives
Before you start, you have to make sure that all members are clear about the direction of the seminar and what roles each other are going to play, not just what you're going to talk about.
Make sure your delivery illustrates you as a credible expert in your field. Don't stand up there and do a twenty-minute sales pitch. Make sure you deliver benefits from start to finish.
It's important to get a good mix of people for both your sake and theirs. You don't want the room to be too quiet and you want them to want to return for your next seminar. Think of the following groups:
- Existing Customers
- Associates and Professional Contacts
When inviting any of these groups, don't forget to encourage them to bring a friend. Aim to start marketing your seminar approximate five months before the seminar takes place.
There are a number of options you can choose from to facilitate seminar registration:
- Utilise a completely integrated membership sign-up and registration package on your web site. This could perhaps connect with all existing members who receive your newsletters. You should also be able to promote, track book and mail out to all delegates.
- Use Eventbrite which is a Free online social media ecommerce company which enables businesses to manage their seminar or event and take payment if required. Eventbrite book over 50m tickets a year!
- Integrated technology; CVENT is just one company that provides integrated technology to work with marketing automation platforms. Combined these platforms will provide messaging, registration, reminders and delegate mobile apps.
Choosing the Venue and the Right Day
Forget Mondays, Fridays and Half Term. But, depending on your audience and possibly some previous research, it might be that Saturday is a good day. But at least find out first. A hotel may not be the only choice. Think about unusual venues that are not too difficult to get to.
If you're planning an exhibition type event and you are a reseller or you provide goods or services on behalf of a manufacturer or distributor, we suggest that you get in contact with them to ask for as much support as they're able to give.
At a basic level this could include some brochures and a pull-up banner, however, it could be a contribution to pay for the venue, additional staff to help support your event, demonstration equipment, merchandise, who knows. You can only ask. But bear in mind, manufacturers have marketing budgets that need to be spent!
The salesXchange Approach
The advantage of salesXchange business events is that no one person has to "front" the seminar or event from start to finish. Rather, all five members of your group have a chance to speak and promote their business, product or service.
One business may be very interested in one subject, mildly interested in another and not interested in any of the remaining three. It is impossible to cater for everyone, but it increases the odds of attendance if there are five speakers.
As a member of a salesXchange marketing syndicate, we plan and manage two events for your group each year, a networking social event and an exhibition event.
About the Author
Nigel is the Founder & Managing Director of salesXchange and has been helping SMEs for over 25 years to develop their marketing, technologies and infrastructure to generate more profits, more efficiently. His recent book book "Integrate! The Essential Business Technology & Marketing Handbook" can be downloaded from Amazon.